30-Day Sentence in First Danny Chen Bullying Trial

Sgt. Adam Holcolmb and Pvt. Danny Chen (Photo from OurChinatown)

In the first of eight military trials in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, Sgt. Adam Holcomb was sentenced yesterday to 30 days in military jail and allowed to stay in the military after he was found not guilty of the most serious charges against him on Monday, DNAinfo reported.

Holcomb was convicted of two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault at the trial, which was attended by Chen’s Parents and a host of their supporters, according to public affairs specialists at Fort Bragg.

As well as the 30-day prison sentence, the jury recommended that Holcomb receive a reduction in military rank and a fine of $1,181.55 for his part in the Chen incident. Testimony during the trial described Chen’s hazing and bullying while serving in Afghanistan, including Holcomb dragging the young man along a gravel path and calling him racial slurs. Chen was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound later that evening in October 2011.

The trials are being closely watched by friends and supporters in Chinatown, where Chen grew up, and some expressed dismay at Holcomb’s sentence.

“It sent a loud and clear message of how far we have to go,” said Wellington Chen, the executive of the Chinese Benevolent Association in Chinatown and no relationship to the young solider. “This sets the tone for the rest of the trials.”

Responding to news of the acquittal, District 1 Council Member Margaret Chin said the sentence was a slap on the wrist.

“This is an outrage,” Chin said in a press release. “To allow Sgt. Holcomb to remain a member of the armed forces is to condone racist and abusive behavior. I urge the Army to intervene in this case, to seek the maximum penalty against Sgt. Holcomb, and to dishonorably discharge Sgt. Holcomb from the United States military.”

Rep. Judy Chu of California tweeted “#DannyChen deserved better than having his #hazing torturer getting a slap on the wrist 30 day sentence.”

Initially the circumstances around Chen’s death received national media attention. OurChinatown‘s Audry Tse has a news round-up, along with her take on the media’s follow-up:

The lack of national media attention that the trials have been receiving greatly reflect the ways in which Asian-American issues are still pushed to the margins, despite the increase of Asian-Americans running for U.S. Congress. Coverage on the case is not even on the headline page of popular newspaper websites such as USA Today or Wall Street Journal.

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